Player: Tuzar Skipper
Position: Outside Linebacker
Free Agent Status: Exclusive Rights – Re-Signed
2019 Salary Cap Hit: $174,706
2019 Season Breakdown:
An undrafted free agent out of Toledo, Tuzar Skipper was, in fact, not even signed after the draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers invited him to work out at their rookie minicamp, after which they did sign him to the 90-man roster. In doing so, they released 2017 seventh-round pick Keion Adams, who was on injured reserve as a rookie and the practice squad the following year.
Skipper, the college teammate of Olasunkanmi Adeniyi, who made the 53-man roster over Adams in 2018 in a sense (even though he spent most of his own rookie season on injured reserve), would go on to have a big impact in the preseason.
He led the NFL in preseason sacks with five, which was the most that any player had within the past few years, and forced two fumbles as well. Adeniyi had opened eyes the year before with three sacks. Skipper also showed signs of being capable of playing the run as well.
It wasn’t until the final preseason game that they really let him work on special teams, which is essential for players in his position, and he did well, registering two tackles. He did enough to make the initial 53-man roster, but he was waived just before the season started.
Now doubt they intended to move him to the practice squad, but the New York Giants claimed him off waivers. He would play for them for a while, even registering a sack, before being waived again. The Steelers had the chance to claim him, but they chose not to, and he was re-signed to the Giants’ practice squad.
It wasn’t until shortly before Thanksgiving, in a move concurrent with placing L.T. Walton on injured reserve, that they would finally sign him off of New York’s practice squad. While he said he was thrilled to be back, he didn’t get to play.
Free Agency Outlook:
As mentioned, Tuzar Skipper has already been re-signed. The Steelers agreed to a new two-year contract with him at the end of the season, at the same time that they had announced they had signed their practice squad players to Reserve/Future contracts.
Had they not done so…well, he would still only be set to become an exclusive rights free agent, so he would only be allowed to sign with the Steelers anyway, unless the team were to release him, at which point he would become a street free agent and would have been able to sign with any team.
While his free agency outlook is settled, his future is not. He will obviously be brought to camp, and perhaps he should be penciled in even for a roster spot, but even that is far from guaranteed. The only thing that we can say is that, unless he gets himself in trouble or something of that nature, he will be in the mix at outside linebacker as they begin to put a 2020 roster together.